Imatges de pÓgina

This tongue had not offended so to-day,
If Cassius might have rul'd.

OCT. Come, come, the cause: If arguing make us sweat,

The proof of it will turn to redder drops.

I draw a sword against conspirators;

When think you that the sword goes up again ?—
Never, till Cæsar's three and twenty wounds"
Be well aveng'd; or till another Cæsar
Have added slaughter to the sword of traitors 9.
BRU. Cæsar, thou can'st not die by traitors,
Unless thou bring'st them with thee.


So I hope;

I was not born to die on Brutus' sword.

BRU. O, if thou wert the noblest of thy strain, Young man, thou could'st not die more honourable. CAS. A peevish schoolboy, worthless of such honour,

Join'd with a masker and a reveller.

ANT. Old Cassius still!

suppose, from the defective metre of this line, that our author


"Flatterers! Now, Brutus, you may thank yourself."



three and TWENTY Wounds-] [Old copy-three and thirty;] but I have ventured to reduce this number to three and twenty, from the joint authorities of Appian, Plutarch, and Suetonius: and I am persuaded, the error was not from the poet but his transcribers. THEOBALD.

Beaumont and Fletcher have fallen into a similar mistake, in their Noble Gentleman :

"So Cæsar fell, when in the Capitol,


They gave his body two and thirty wounds." RITSON.

9 till another Cæsar


Have added slaughter to the sword of traitors.] A similar idea has already occurred in King John :

"Or add a royal number to the dead,—

"With slaughter coupled to the name of kings."


Ост. Come, Antony; away.Defiance, traitors, hurl we1 in your teeth : If you dare fight to-day, come to the field; If not, when you have stomachs 2.

[Exeunt OCTAVIUS, ANTONY, and their Army. CAS. Why now, blow, wind; swell, billow; and swim, bark!

The storm is up, and all is on the hazard.


Lucilius; hark, a word with you.


CAS. Messala,




My lord.

[BRUTUS and LUCILIUS converse apart.

1 DEFIANCE, traitors, HURL we Paradise Lost, b. i. v. 669 :


What says my general ?

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Hurling defiance toward the vault of Heaven."

Hurl is peculiarly expressive. The challenger in judicial combats was said to hurl down his gage, when he threw his glove down as a pledge that he would make good his charge against his adversary. So, in King Richard II.:

"And interchangeably hurl down my gage "Upon this over-weening traitor's foot." HOLT WHITE. when you have stomachs.] So, in Chapman's version of the ninth Iliad :


-] Whence perhaps Milton,

'Fight when his stomach serves him best, or when," &c. STEEVENS.

This common metaphor frequently occurs in Shakspeare, as for example, in Henry V. Act IV. Sc. III. :

"Rather proclaim it, Westmoreland, through my host,
"That he which hath no stomach to this fight
"Let him depart." BOSWELL.

3 Messala, &c.] Almost every circumstance in this speech taken from Sir Thomas North's translation of Plutarch:

"But touching Cassius, Messala reporteth that he supped by himselfe in his tent with a few of his friendes, and that all supper tyme he looked very sadly, and was full of thoughts, although it was against his nature: and that after supper he tooke him by the hande, and holding him fast (in token of kindnes as his manner was) told him in Greeke, Messala, I protest vnto thee, and make thee my witnes, that I am compelled against my minde

This is my birth-day; as this very day

Was Cassius born. Give me thy hand, Messala:
Be thou my witness, that, against my will,
As Pompey was, am I compell'd to set
Upon one battle all our liberties.

You know, that I held Epicurus strong,
And his opinion: now I change my mind,
And partly credit things that do presage.
Coming from Sardis, on our former ensign
Two mighty eagles fell; and there they perch'd,
Gorging and feeding from our soldier's hands;
Who to Philippi here consorted us;
This morning are they fled away, and gone;
And in their steads, do ravens, crows, and kites,
Fly o'er our heads, and downward look on us,


and will (as Pompey the Great was) to ieopard the libertie of our contry, to the hazard of a battel. And yet we must be liuely, and of good corage, considering our good fortune, whom we should wronge too muche to mistrust her, although we follow euill counsell. Messala writeth, that Cassius hauing spoken these last wordes unto him, he bid him farewell, and willed him to come to supper to him the next night following, bicause it was his birth day." STEEVENS.


— Our FORMER ensign -] Thus the old copy, and, I suppose, rightly. Former is foremost. Shakspeare sometimes uses the comparative instead of the positive and superlative. See King Lear, Act IV. Sc. III. Either word has the same origin; nor do I perceive why former should be less applicable to place than time. STEEVENS.

Former is right; and the meaning-" our fore ensign." So, in Adlyngton's Apuleius, 1596: "First hee instructed me to sit at the table vpon my taile, and howe I should leape and daunce, holding up my former feete."

Again, in Harrison's Description of Britaine: "It [i. e. brawn] is made commonly of the fore part of a tame bore set uppe for the purpose by the space of an whole year or two. Afterwarde he is killed-and then of his former partes is our brawne made."


I once thought that for the sake of distinction the word should be spelt foremer, but as it is derived from the Saxon forma, first, I have adhered to the common spelling. MALONE.

I but believe it partly;

As we were sickly prey; their shadows seem
A canopy most fatal, under which
Our army lies, ready to give up the ghost.
MES. Believe not so.
For I am fresh of spirit, and resolv'd
To meet all perils very constantly.
BRU. Even so, Lucilius.
Now, most noble Brutus,
The gods to-day stand friendly; that we may,
Lovers in peace, lead on our days to age!
But, since the affairs of men rest still uncertain *,
Let's reason with the worst that may befall.
If we do lose this battle, then is this
The very last time we shall speak together:
What are you then determined to do?

BRU. Even by the rule of that philosophy",
By which I did blame Cato for the death

*First folio, incertaine.


―as we were SICKLY PREY ;] So, in King John: "As doth a raven on a sick-fall'n beast-." STEEVens. 6 The very last time we shall speak together:

What are you then determined to do ?] i. e. I am resolved in such a case to kill myself. What are you determined of?



of that philosophy,] There is an apparent contradiction between the sentiments contained in this and the following speech which Shakspeare has put into the mouth of Brutus. In this, Brutus declares his resolution to wait patiently for the determinations of Providence; and in the next, he intimates, that though he should survive the battle, he would never submit to be led in chains to Rome. This sentence in Sir Thomas North's translation, is perplexed, and might be easily misunderstood. Shakspeare, in the first speech, makes that to be the present opinion of Brutus, which in Plutarch, is mentioned only as one he formerly entertained, though he now condemned it.

So, in Sir Thomas North :-" There Cassius beganne to speake first, and sayd: the gods graunt vs, O Brutus, that this day we may winne the field, and euer after to liue all the rest of our life quietly, one with another. But sith the gods haue so ordeyned it, that the greatest & chiefest amongest men are most vncertayne,

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Which he did give himself:-I know not how,
But I do find it cowardly and vile,

For fear of what might fall, so to prevent
The time of life :-arming myself with patience,


and that if the battel fall out otherwise to daye than we wishe or looke for, we shall hardely meete againe, what art thou then determined to doe? to fly? or dye? Brutus aunswered him, being yet but a young man, and not ouer greatly experienced in the world: I trust (I know not how) a certeine rule of philosophie, by the which I did greatly blame and reproue Cato for killing of him selfe, as being no lawfull nor godly acte, touching the gods, nor concerning men, valiant; not to giue place and yeld to diuine prouidence, and not constantly and paciently to take whatsoever it pleaseth him to send vs, but to drawe backe, and flie: but being now in the middest of the daunger, I am of a contrarie mind. For if it be not the will of God, that this battell fall out fortunate for vs, I will looke no more for hope, neither seeke to make any new supply for war againe, but will rid me of this miserable world, and content me with my fortune. For, I gaue vp my life for my contry in the ides of Marche, for the which I shall live in another more glorious worlde." STEEVENS.

I see no contradiction in the sentiments of Brutus. He would not determine to kill himself merely for the loss of one battle; but as he expresses himself, (p. 148,) would try his fortune in a second fight. Yet he would not submit to be a captive. BLACKSTONE.

I concur with Mr. Steevens. The words of the text by no means justify Sir W. Blackstone's solution. The question of Cassius relates solely to the event of this battle. MALONE

There is certainly an apparent contradiction between the sentiments which Brutus expresses in this, and in his subsequent speech; but there is no real inconsistency. Brutus had laid down to himself as a principle, to abide every chance and extremity of war; but when Cassius reminds him of the disgrace of being led in triumph through the streets of Rome, he acknowledges that to be a trial which he could not endure. Nothing is more natural than this. We lay down a system of conduct for ourselves, but occurrences may happen that will force us to depart from it.


This apparent contradiction may be easily reconciled. Brutus is at first inclined to wait patiently for better times; but is roused by the idea of being "led in triumph," to which he will never submit. The loss of the battle would not alone have determined him to kill himself, if he could have lived free.



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The time of life ;] To prevent is here used in a French sense

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